Start the New Year Off Right With An Ergonomics Review

The New Year provides employers and opportunity to re-examine the issue of ergonomics in the workplace.  Making sure that workplace ergonomics is in place for all employees not only improves workplace morale, but can reduce the costs of workers’ compensation claims in the future.

 

 

What is Ergonomics?

 

Defined by Webster, ergonomics is the “the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.”  This includes a review of workstations and job functions to reduce muscle overuse, correct poor posture and eliminate injuries cause is repetitive work activities.  This can also include a review of policies and procedures that seek input from a varied of interested stakeholders—include the person perform a particular work function.  It is important to include a review of tools used on a daily basis and other intangibles including, but not limited to work space lighting.

 

 

Implementing an Effective Review

 

A proper ergonomics review includes the use of a number of different specialists and stakeholders.  Beyond using a qualified specialist, it is important to include input from company management and employees performing job functions.  This can also include a review of available resources and budget constraints.

 

It is also essential to understand the demographics of your labor force.  Studies show that Americans are working into their later years.  This is resulting in more severe injuries from repetitive type injuries that lead to longer periods of disability.  Factors to consider when addressing this issue include:

 

  • Age discrimination laws that prevent employers from engaging in unlawful labor practices;
  • State and federal OSHA laws and regulations; and
  • Addressing injury and post-injury response.

 

 

Return-To-Work and Ergonomics

 

A successful ergonomics review will keep in mind issues employer and employees face when returning to work following an injury.  Some important matters to consider include:

 

  • Modification of a pre-injury position to accommodate the restrictions of a recovering employee;
  • The ability of an employee under work restrictions to rotate positions on a frequent basis; and
  • Workstations that are easily modified to allow employees to move from one function to the next without disruptions in productivity.

 

These tasks are sometimes difficult to achieve.  Barriers to successfully implementation include the inability of the claims management team to coordinate with employer representatives.  There is a need for all stakeholders to cooperate on these matters.  It requires clear communication and objective information from the treating physicians.

 

 

It is Also about Injury Prevention

 

The prevention of injuries is a major feature of a successful ergonomics program that sometimes goes unnoticed.  Examples of this include adjustable work stations for employees that allow them to perform functions sitting and standing.  This not only leads to increased job satisfaction, but is proven to reduce injury.  Some common injuries prevented from this type of modification include cervical spine strain, low back discomfort and upper extremity injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar nerve impingement.

 

 

Conclusions

 

An ergonomics review has a number of important benefits to all stakeholders concerned about workers’ compensation claim prevention or reduction.  This all starts with an effective implementation program.  Once this takes place, it is important to include all parties, including employees.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

Do You Hear What I Hear – Prevent Hearing Loss Claims

Hearing loss claims can be very expensive.  If the loss is great enough to prevent the employee from continuing in the job, or prevents taking other employment, there could be life time exposure for benefits.   Most exposure will be for the percentage of the loss caused by the job.

 

In industries such as mining, construction, noisy manufacturing conditions, and jet airports, hearing loss claims may even be assumed to have come from the job.

 

Other areas where hearing loss exposure exists and might be assumed to come from the employment are blaring music in stores, restaurants, bars, and amusement facilities.  Employees working in these areas are susceptible to hearing loss as the noise in some of these establishments has been measured as high as 120 to 140 decibels.

 

In addition, traumatic hearing loss from sudden unforeseen explosions or other loud sources will pose the possibility of full exposure.

 

 

Some Good News:

 

According to OSHA data, hearing loss claims appear to be declining.  This could be due to improved protective hearing devices, enforced use of protective devices, lowering of the environmental decibel noise by the employer, and elimination of certain industries from the calculations.

 

In addition, states have begun to amend workers compensation acts.  Some of the changes noted are:

 

  1. Noise levels need to be at 90 decibel levels or more.
  2. Employee exposure must be at least 90 days.
  3. The loss needs to affect both ears.
  4. Differences in the level of loss for each ear are being considered together.
  5. There must be conclusive medical (by a certified Otolaryngologist MD) substantiation that the hearing loss is due solely to the job nose.
  6. The hearing loss must be 10% or more in some jurisdictions.

 

Tables for calculating the actual loss are being adjusted to include age and normal deterioration, and benefits are being adjusted according to  the dominant factor.  Example:  if 80% of the loss is due to age and 20% occurred on the job only the 20% will adjudged compensable.

 

Time for filing claims must be accomplished within a statutory time after the employee discovers the loss or begins medical attention for the loss.  Further, statutes are now taking into account the length of time away from the exposure.  The longer the employee is away from the exposure the more must be substantiated as to causation, and some jurisdictions have enacted discovery reporting time frames.

 

 

Minimize the Exposure:

 

Despite the improvements noted above employers need to keep a strong handle on conditions that can lead to hearing loss claims.

 

  • Start with environment. Take decibel readings though out the entire operation.   Institute measures that might eliminate, reduce, or take employees away from the noise.   Sound insulations, sound absorbing curtains and tiles, sound proof booths, and improved hearing loss protectors, are just a few physical steps.

 

  • Strive to reach an environment where employees are subjected noise decibel readings of 90 or lower.

 

  • Failure of an employee to use protective equipment will not prevent the ability to file and prove a hearing loss claim. Therefore, strong enforcement of rules for safety and using protective equipment is necessary.

 

  • When a hearing loss claim is presented be sure the claim technician explores the employee’s off job decibel exposure that might add to hearing loss. A person frequently using earphones for musical devices, listening to loud sound in confined areas, or attending loud sporting or entertainment events might all have an impact.  However, can be difficult to establish.

 

  • Constantly monitor decibel readings and take steps to correct anything over a 90 reading.

 

  • Have a true otolaryngologist take pre-employment audio examination. Schedule regular retests as long as the employee is in the noise environment.  When the employment terminates schedule a final test.
  • When loss is detected, have the otolaryngologist determine the percentage of loss related to the job.

 

 

Summary:

 

Hearing losses can be expensive and present challenges for the employer.   While there are some legislative changes that help, employers need to be diligent about conditions that can lead to hearing loss.  Pre and Post audio testing of employees that are exposed to noise is a must.

 

 

Author Michael Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their work comp costs by 20% to 50%.  He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and founder of COMPClub, an exclusive member training program on workers compensation cost containment best practices. Through these platforms he is in the trenches on a monthly basis working together with clients to implement and define best practices, which allows him to continuously be at the forefront of innovation and thought leadership in workers’ compensation cost containment. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

Risk Management at Industrial Work Zones

It’s no secret; work zones can be a dangerous place both for employees and for passers-by. Due to the materials, heavy equipment, and the busy activities at industrial zones, they can be a risky place making safety an important concern. Keeping everyone safe on site should be top priority to all supervisors, workers, and those nearby. A focus on safe zones and safe work means construction can proceed effectively, on schedule, with good quality, and with everyone being safe. Luckily, there are good tips to help those who work in and manage industrial zones to keep them safe.

 

 

Protective Gear is a Must

 

Everyone entering a work zone should be wearing protective gear. Whether the person is simply looking around, delivering supplies, or talking with someone on the crew, protective gear is still important. Even one unprotected person is at risk in industrial zones. Likewise, everyone needs to be wearing the correct gear. Leaving off a safety hat or vest because of hot weather, for instance, is an unwise risk because a break without proper safety equipment leaves one exposed. Also, it is important to make sure each person has the proper equipment for the specific job available to them and that it is in good condition.

 

 

Clear Directions and Communication

 

Industrial zones can be chaotic, loud, and confusing. Due to the number of people and the equipment being used, communicating clearly is very important. Posting clear signs with words or obvious imagery to remind everyone on site of important rules or reminders is a great idea. Bright colored signs with clear images or large, simple wording will be certain everyone remembers the proper precautions. Likewise, it can draw attention to remind passers-by to be careful in heavily populated places.

 

 

Choose the Right Times

 

Choosing the right times to perform construction work is important, especially for jobs on busy streets or in populous areas. Avoiding night time work is advisable. Even with reflective clothing, night work can be a hazard both to people nearby and to workers. Likewise, workers are more likely to be tired and less focused from long hours continuing into the evening. Therefore, working during daylight hours only is one of the safest ways to handle a construction zone.

 

 

Keep an Eye Out

 

In addition to proper positioning and clothing that is meant to make others nearby aware of the workers, be sure to have a safety supervisor on each project. Having a specific person appointed to looking out for general safety concerns as well as all workers as his or her primary task means safety concerns that might not be seen otherwise are more likely to be noticed and addressed. The manager should have a good amount of experience in construction and be familiar with safety codes, company procedures, and what sorts of things to look out for that may be a danger.

 

 

Reroute

 

If at all possible, detour as much traffic as possible – both human and automobile – to keep people from getting unnecessarily close to the zone. If a detour isn’t possible, be sure to set up clear ropes and barricades to mark where people should not go past and put someone in charge of looking out for people not paying attention during busy times. Barricades and proper signage and someone flagging or watching traffic can greatly reduce accidents from those passing by who aren’t paying attention.

 

 

Proper Insurance

 

Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, but insuring both workers and the work zone is an extremely important part of industrial work zone safety. Insurance policies keep workers protected in case of injury and supervisors and owners safe in case of any accident or problem. Looking into a good coverage policy or set of policies is one of the first things that should be undertaken before opening a new construction zone. Likewise, policies should be inspected regularly to make sure they still meet the needs of the zone and that they don’t need an update or renewal.

 

By following these and other common sense safety tips, industrial construction zones can be a much safer place for everyone. Likewise, following safety tips will ensure work proceeds the way it should and is a success for everyone.

 

 

Kenneth Overton is a risk management consultant and a former construction supervisor with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He specializes in risk analysis and disaster management. Contact: kenneth.p.overton@gmail.com

How Sharp Is Your Work Comp Fraud Detector?

While we can tell our readers the importance of fighting fraudulent claims, and publish lists of red flag indicators of fraud, it is often difficult for the risk manager or workers’ compensation coordinator to separate the legitimate work comp claims from the bogus claims.

 

To assist you in recognizing the bogus claims, we are providing a sample claim, using the actual facts of a submitted workers’ compensation claim to see if you can recognize or spot ten red flags of a bogus claim (the name of the employee has been altered to protect the guilty).

 

 

The Claim:

 

John Doe works in an auto repair shop as a mechanic.  Upon arriving early for work on Monday morning, Mr. Doe went into the auto parts store room to get a part for the car he was going to work on.  While leaving the storeroom and using both hands to carry the heavy auto part in a box, he tripped over another box on the floor.  In an effort to keep from falling, he grabbed a storage shelf, twisting and injuring his shoulder as he fell to the floor.  No one saw him fall in the parts storage room as the other employees were just arriving for work.

 

Mr. Doe immediately reported the claim to the shop manager and explained to the manager how he fell over the box on the floor he did not see because of the box he was carrying with both hands.  The shop manager offered to take Mr. Doe to the nearest industrial medicine clinic, but Mr. Doe instead chose to take himself to his “family doctor”.  The family doctor took Mr. Doe off work and did not indicate when he would be able to return to work.

 

When the shop manager called Mr. Doe the next morning to see how he was doing, Mr. Doe’s wife stated he was sleeping and could be disturbed.  The shop manager waited and called Mr. Doe again that afternoon.  Per the wife, Mr. Doe had stepped out.  The shop manager asked for Mr. Doe’s cell phone number, but instead of providing the phone number, the wife promised to have Mr. Doe call the manager.  Mr. Doe almost immediately called the manager back to relay what the family doctor had said. The shop manager recorded the cell phone number of Mr. Doe.  When the shop manager called Mr. Doe’s cell phone the following week to see what the family doctor had to say after the second medical appointment, the background noises did not sound like the noise you would hear in a person’s home.

 

A second mechanic in the shop after being overworked for three weeks due to the absence of Mr. Doe advised the shop manager that he had heard through a mutual friend that Mr. Doe had injured his shoulder while rock climbing the weekend before the reported injury.

 

 

The claim has numerous red flags that could be a tip-off for fraud.  They are:

 

  1. Monday morning accident. Almost twice as many accidents occur on Monday morning than any other morning of the week.  This is due to people claiming non-work related weekend injuries as work related in order to not lose their source of income.
  2. Arriving early for work. Unless the employee habitually arrives early for work, arrival for work early on the day of the alleged accident is an indicator the employee wanted to “have the accident” before other employees see he is injured.
  3. Not seeing a hazard he had just saw moments earlier. If boxes on the floor were a common occurrence, the employee would be careful about watching where he was going. If a box on the floor was unusual, the employee would have made a mental note to avoid it.
  4. The mechanism of injury does not make sense. If the employee was using both hands to carry a heavy box, how did he have a hand free to grab the storage shelf?
  5. The accident was not witnessed. Bogus injury claims almost always occur where no one else will see the accident happen.
  6. The selection of a particular doctor over a more qualified doctor who specializes in treating injured employees. This is normally a sign the employee wants a doctor who will accommodate his desire to be off work.
  7. A doctor who does not address return to work. This is normally because the injured employee tells the doctor that he does not feel he will be able to meet his job requirements.
  8. The employee being asleep when he would normally be awake. Unless the doctor has prescribed some very strong pain killers, the employee should be available to talk to the employer.
  9. The employee not being at home. Occasionally not home is understandable, repeatedly not home/not available is usually a sign the employee has something better to do than being at home, i.e., possibly another job, either short-term or long-term.  Background noises that don’t sound like a spouse or a television often are an indicator the employee is working elsewhere.
  10. Tips from co-workers. This is probably the strongest evidence of fraud and should be investigated thoroughly.

 

None of these red flags by themselves are proof of fraud, nor is a combination of two red flags.  However, the more red flags the employer sees on a claim, the higher the probability the claim is fraudulent.  If you see multiple reasons to question the validity of a claim, the insurance adjuster and the special investigative unit of the insurer should be notified as to why you believe the claim to be questionable.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx Work Comp Solutions. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com, and Founder of the interactive Workers’ Comp Training platform COMPClub. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

SALES TO PAY FOR ACCIDENTS CALCULATOR:  http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/sales-to-pay-for-accidents-calculator/

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculators/

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

WORKERS’ COMP TRAINING: https://workerscompclub.com

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

How To Set Up And Enforce Your Safety Program

A strong well enforced Safety Program is a key ingredient for all prevention programs.   Good safety programs with proper enforcement allow employees to have a high job comfort level.

 

Employees will come to understand that the employer has their best health interests at heart.  This can develop stronger employee loyalty, reduced injuries, increase production, result in less employee turnover, and training.  Many more positives can develop which will lead to a better bottom line.

 

 

Injuries Cost:

 

A weak or non-enforced safety program will allow for job injuries that can cause these and more risks:

  • Loss of life.
  • Permanent Disabilities.
  • Lost Production.
  • Employee re-training or replacement.
  • Lost income.
  • Health Exposures that may not be covered by insurance.
  • Possible damages to machines or equipment.
  • Increased insurance premiums.

 

In addition to these few noted visible items, hidden costs such as employee unrest that results in poor production will occur. A good program can limit or avoid such exposures.

 

 

Starting a Safety Program:

 

Safety is complex, detailed and demanding.  It can be accomplished using scientific process and measurement.  An entire profession of Safety Engineering has developed with college degrees available.  Due to the specialty of this industry, it is wise to use the services of a Professional Safety Engineer.

 

All safety programs need to meet OSHA requirements.  There may be flaws in OSHA rules and regulations that may not meet or be conducive to the employer’s industry, and OSHA has few regulations that can be imposed for employee violations. An expert safety engineer will know what needs to be done for employer compliance and employee rights.

 

A safety engineer should carefully study each job function.  The following are a few items to consider:

 

  1. Machines: for safety guards, emergency shut off switches, age, and current state of the art changes or modifications.   Use manufacturer representatives to assist and recommend modifications.
  2. Ergonomics for work stations. They should be designed for comfort and efficiency.
  3. Time elements for exercise and rest breaks from sedentary operations.
  4. Full safety inspections for all vehicles to ascertain proper road worthiness.
  5. Comfortable assembly line speeds.
  6. Toxic Exposures.
  7. Environmental items like lighting, ventilation, heating and air-conditioning.

 

Consultations with legal, union, management and other forces should be obtained during and after the study.  Such input will help with the implementation and enforcement of the program.  When these units know they had a part in the program development they will be more cooperative and receptive to compliance.

 

The Safety Engineer, using all data from the study and the consultations, will then write a comprehensive program.  The resulting written program should be reasonable, concise, and.  understood for all employees.   There should be incentives and rewards for compliance.  Conversely,

penalties and disciplinary steps should be included.

 

 

Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation:

 

Simply passing out copies of the program to employees may not reach a desired result.  Human nature shows that most employees will only glance at it.  It will then be put someplace and forgotten.

 

Gather employees into groups of 10 to 15 persons and pass out the program to all.  The Safety Engineer or person charged with enforcing the program should then proceed to go over all aspects using the written program as a text.

 

Answer all questions and concerns expressed by the employees.  If the comment or concern is valid, make adjustments accordingly.

 

Have all employees sign an agreement that they attended the training, understood it and will comply.

This document can later be used for any discipline measures.

 

Once the program takes effect the Safety Person should make as many rounds and inspections as are reasonable or necessary to assure all employees are in compliance.  Those employees not in compliance must be dealt with promptly and appropriately.  Post nameless violations on the employee bulletin board.  “Example Safety Violations 6/2/15. Three employees cited for not wearing safety glasses.  Each disciplined according to rule 3 in safety equipment violation.”

 

Minor infractions should have warnings.  Establish stricter penalties for multiple warnings.

 

Any safety violation that results in injury to self, another employee, a customer, damages property, or reduces production should have penalties from time off without pay to termination.

 

Once a month the Safety Person should meet with management.  Review compliance, violations, penalties, disciplines, rewards, injuries, and any other aspects in focus.  If the program does not develop a trend for reduced losses and cost seek out the areas of failure for corrective measures.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, Principal, COMPClub, Amaxx Work Comp Solutions. He is an expert in employer communication systems and helps employers reduce their workers comp costs by 20% to 50%. He resides in the Boston area and works as a Qualified Loss Management Program provider working with high experience modification factor companies in the Massachusetts State Risk Pool.  He is co-author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com, and Founder of the interactive Workers’ Comp Training platform COMPClub. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2015 Amaxx LLC. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

SALES TO PAY FOR ACCIDENTS CALCULATOR:  http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/sales-to-pay-for-accidents-calculator/

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://reduceyourworkerscomp.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculators/

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

WORKERS’ COMP TRAINING: https://workerscompclub.com

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

 

OSHA Top 10 List Can Help Employers Avoid Costly Penalties

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Okay, as far as entertainment value goes, it may not rival late night television hosts and their opening monologues, but OSHA did publish its list of the “Top 10” most frequently cited construction standards, following inspections of work sites in 2013.

 

 

No, OSHA was not intent on pitting itself against the likes of David Letterman or Conan O’Brien in a comedic battle of wits. Rather, it was attempting a pre-emptive strike, aimed at saving businesses from needlessly paying out high penalty fees (up to $7,000 for a serious violation, and as much as $70,000 for repeated or willful violations).

 

 

 

Top 10 Lists Alerts Employers About Commonly Cited Standards

 

OSHA annually publishes this “Top 10” list to alert employers about commonly cited standards, so employers can take steps to find and mend recognized hazards before OSHA ever takes punitive action against a company. Normally, OSHA does not grant advanced notice of its inspections, and inspections are generally performed at sites where imminently dangerous situations are known, fatalities or catastrophes have occurred, complaints or referrals have been given, the work site has been issued a citation in the past, or inspections may be pre-planned or programmed.

 

 

While it poses no threat to replace the heroes of late night television, OSHA is meeting its goal of reducing fatalities, injuries, and illnesses in the workplace.

 

 

Too many preventable injuries occur on the job, leading companies to spend unnecessary dollars on fines and healthcare costs.

 

 

Medcor offers a variety of safety compliance training courses designed to meet the requirements and needs of companies, including OSHA compliance, emergency medical, emergency response, industrial fire suppression, and technical rescue. For more information, contact the author at Raymond.loch@medcor.com

 

 

Yes, OSHA citations can be costly, but for the most part, they are avoidable.

 

 

 

And now… here are the “Top 10” Most Frequently Cited OSHA Construction Standards for 2013:

 

#10: 1926.451(b)(1) – Scaffolds not fully planked at each work level.

 

 

#9:1926.451 (e)(1) – Scaffold access/egress. Many citations involve climbing on the cross bracing.

 

 

#8: 1926.453(b)(2)(v) – Fall protection in aerial lifts. Users must receive training in the manufacturer’s instruction.

 

 

#7: 1926.501(b)(10) – No fall protection for flat roofing. Consider using parapet guardrails and portable-type fall arrest anchorage.

 

 

#6: 1926.451(9)(1) – Fall protection on scaf­folding. Fall protection starts at 10 feet.

 

 

#5: 1926.102(b)(1) – No safety glasses. Hun­dreds of eye injuries occur each year from working without safety glasses.

 

 

#4: 1926.100 – Hard Hats. Fatalities occur when workers are hit by falling objects.

 

 

#3: 1926.501(b)(1) – Open sided floors that were more than six feet in depth were not protected with standard guardrails or equivalent. Guardrails must be able to withstand 200 pounds of force.

 

 

#2: 1926.1053(b)(1) – Training in the safe use of ladders. Ladder falls killed over 100 workers in the last 10 years. Ladders need to extend three feet above the landing.

 

 

And now… (drum roll!)

 

 

the #1 citation for 2013 is… 1926.501(b)(13) – Fall protection in resi­dential construction. Having no fall arrest has been the ongoing #1 OSHA citation since 2007.

 

 

Author Raymond Loch, Safety Training Services Leader, Medcor, is a certified safety professional with over 32 years of experience as an instructor, operator, and consultant in safety, emergency preparedness, and emergency response for general industry, construction and fire service.   He has developed and implemented training programs for OSHA compliance, technical rescue, and industrial fire suppression. Ray has worked with Fortune 100 firms and with small companies and government entities.  . http://medcor.com.  Contact: raymond.loch@medcor.com

 

Injury Prevention: Look In Mirror, “You’re Looking At The Problem”

All injuries are preventable. If you really think about it, if everyone did everything they were supposed to do accidents probably would never happen.

 

Sure equipment fails, or gets worn out and fails, or tires blow out when you run over a nail, but think about it: That nail maybe wouldn’t be on the road if a worker hadn’t left a box of nails on the bed of their truck then drove away with the tailgate down. That machine would not have failed if it were replaced 2 years ago when the maintenance worker told his supervisor that this machine was old, outdated, and had “a few years left.”

 
Tracy Morgan Accident, Like Most Accidents, Was Preventable

 

Think about what happened to comedian Tracy Morgan. This is all alleged at the time I write this, but allegedly the semi-truck driver was up for 24 hours before he crashed into the back of Morgan’s limo. The truck driver is a Wal-Mart employee. No doubt he will have a great defense counsel when this goes to trial, but what if that were your truck driver out there that caused this accident? Do you know how many hours your drivers are logging behind the wheel? Are they compliant with all their reporting of work versus rest periods? How can you really prove they are being truthful and honest should this situation result from your employee? If you are not sure, I hope you have deep pockets to provide as good of a defense counsel as this driver is going to get.

 

Time and time again, we see injuries that are preventable. Most of these injuries get chalked up to “operator error” meaning that this worker knew better than to do what they were doing at the time they were injured. This could be from trying to lift too much, or pull too much in one load, or from operating a machine in the improper manner.

 

 

The Belt Sander That Luckily Missed

 

For example, I saw an injury the other day in which one machine operator lucked out. He was using a big stationary belt sander, to clean and smooth the edges on some metal pieces he was working on. This is a vertical sander, meaning the belt runs up and down, and the operator holds the piece of metal and pushes it into the belt to obtain the desired result.

 

Instead of holding the piece vertically like you are supposed to, he was holding it horizontally. When you hold it horizontally, to work on one edge you have to tilt the piece up. What he forgot to realize was by tilting the piece up, his hands were extremely close to the moving belt. The piece caught in the tiny gap between the platform and the belt, and the force of the spinning belt pulled his hands right in to it.

 

He was very lucky in a sense that he escaped with only some bad abrasions and a few fractured fingers. It surely could have been much worse had his fingers been pulled down and jammed into the platform or had he not had gloves on at the time.

 

But questions begged to be asked. Why was he doing this and holding the part horizontally? Who trained him on how to use this sander? Where was his supervisor, and why was he not seen operating this equipment in an unsafe manner?

 

This is a 100% preventable injury. I’m sure the person reading this right now can think of many claims that resulted from something that should have been preventable in the first place. Think of the costs associated with claims that should have never happened in the first place.

 

 

“Operator Error” Should Not Fully Be Blamed On Operator
Every risk manager’s excuse is that it was “operator error” or just overall “bad judgment” on the part of the injured worker. But I look at the greater cause of the injury which is the worker themselves. They know better than to use equipment improperly, so why do they do it in the first place?

 

The answer is that nobody has ever caught them cutting corners. Plus even if they were caught, no discipline was ever handed down to them. So if they are not disciplined, what incentive do they have to change their dangerous ways?

 

They are only going to keep getting lucky for so long. Chances are this belt sander guy learned his lesson, and when he is back to work he will use the sander correctly for a while, until he goes back to his old ways.

 

Every single business out there that has employees on the road for any type of business should take this Tracy Morgan accident as a brutal wake-up call. No worker wakes up one day and thinks they are going to get behind the wheel of their truck or car and kill somebody.

 

 

Hold Workers Accountable To Safety And Discipline Unsafe Acts

 

At the end of the day, your workers have to be held accountable for their own actions, and they need to be disciplined for unsafe acts. The chain of command and accountability has to be there. Workers are held accountable for their actions, supervisors are held accountable for their workers under their supervision, and so on up the ladder.

 

The failure is when one level of management does not act properly in stopping an unsafe act to begin with. If you as business owners and decision-makers do not step in, you cannot afford to turn a blind eye to whatever problem you are facing.

 

The cost of replacing an unsafe machine or the cost of making sure your workers are complaint with whatever safety protocol you have is not worth the cost of someone being seriously injured, or worse, losing their life.

 

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

 

Fire Safety Lessons From One of The Deadliest Accidents In US History

We have just passed the sad 103rd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire that occurred on March 25, 1911. This was one of the deadliest industrial disasters that resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. The fire resulted in the deaths of 146 garment workers. They died from the fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths. The victims included 123 women and 23 men ages 14 to 43 years old.

 

The factory was on the eighth to tenth floors of a New York City building. The owners had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits to prevent theft. Many workers who could not escape the burning building jumped to their deaths from the buildings windows to escape the fire and smoke. Following the fire, public outrage led to legislation requiring improved worker safety standards. These new state laws required better building access and egress, fireproofing, fire extinguishers, alarm systems and automatic sprinklers.

 

What relevance does this tragedy have for employers today? Many aspects of this historical fire still can underscore important lessons to avoid workplace fires and injuries. For example:

 

Strictly enforce smoking bans. Although smoking was banned on the Triangle Factory floor, workers were known to sneak cigarettes. The New York Fire Marshall concluded that the most likely cause of the fire was a discarded match or cigarette in a scrap bin.

 

Promptly dispose of scrap material. The scrap bins contained hundreds of pounds, two months’ worth, of highly flammable fabric cuttings.

 

Keep flammable materials away from each other. In addition, hanging fabrics were close to the scrap bins, which helped the fire spread quickly.

 

Have working, audible fire alarms and emergency communication systems. A bookkeeper on the eighth floor was able to telephone the tenth floor to warn them of the fire. However, there was not a working telephone on the ninth floor to allow those workers to be informed. The ninth floor was not notified of the fire before the fire reached that floor.

 

Keep exits accessible. Many more victims could have escaped if the exits and freight elevator were unlocked. A foreman who had a stairway door key escaped by another route. Elevator operators saved many lives by traveling three times up to the ninth floor for passengers, but were forced to give up when the elevator rails buckled under the heat.

 

Keep fire escapes in good repair. Twenty of the victims fell to their deaths when the flimsy fire escape they were on collapsed.

 

 

Author Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher.  www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com.  Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

 

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

 

Lifting Safety Can Avoid A Work Comp Pain In The Neck (And Back)

Many workplace accidents occur because of improper lifting techniques. Workplace lifting may cause employees to suffer from back sprains, muscle pulls, wrist injuries, elbow injuries, spinal injuries and other injuries. For example, nursing homes have a high rate of back injuries because of improper lifting mechanics when moving patients. Lifting loads heavier than about 50 pounds increases the risk of injury.

 

According to OSHA, shoulder and back injuries accounted for over 36 percent of injuries involving missed workdays in 2001. Overexertion and cumulative trauma were the biggest factors in these injuries.

 

 

Avoid Repetition

 

Holding items for a long time, even if loads are light, increases risk of back and shoulder injury, since muscles can be starved of nutrients and waste products can build up. Repeatedly exerting, such as when pulling wire, can fatigue muscles by limiting recuperation times. Inadequate rest periods do not allow the body to rest.

 

 

Avoid Awkward Postures

 

Another cause of lifting injuries is awkward postures. Bending while lifting forces the back to support the weight of the upper body in addition to the weight being lifted. Bending while lifting strains the back even when lifting something light. Bending moves the load away from the body and significantly increases the effective load on the back, which increases stress on the lower spine and fatigues muscles. Reaching moves the load away from the back, increases the effective load, and strains shoulders. Carrying loads on one shoulder, under an arm or in one hand creates uneven spinal pressure.

 

 

Lifting Basics

 

When lifting, your workers should remember these basics:

 

Hug the spine– Move items close to your body and use your legs, especially when lifting an item from a low location. Keep your elbows close to your body and keep the load as close to your body as possible. Do not start a lift below mid-thigh nor end the lift above shoulder height.

 

Bend the knees

 

Don’t bend over– Minimize bending and reaching by placing heavy objects on shelves, tables, or racks.

 

Keep legs a proper width apart

 

Avoid twisting, especially when bending forward while lifting. Turn by moving the feet rather than twisting the torso.

 

Assess the item for size and weight before beginning to lift. Break down loads into smaller units and carry one in each hand to equalize loads. Ask for assistance or use lifting assistance devices such as hand trucks, forklifts, lift gates and ramps when necessary.

 

Train all workers in use of lifting assistance devices and lifting mechanics. Provide back support belts.

 

Use good housekeeping. Poor housekeeping limits proper access to objects and forces awkward postures. It increases the risk of a worker slipping or tripping while carrying or lifting objects.

 

Use adequate rest breaks to avoid overexertion. Switch between tasks to avoid overexertion of certain muscles.

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

Do Not Get Burned By Poor Electrical Safety

Electrical hazards can cause burns, shocks and electrocution. Having a comprehensive electrical safety program is the key way to prevent electrical workplace injuries and fatalities. Electrical injuries are some of the most severe and preventable workplace injuries. Keeping facilities and electrical equipment in good repair should be of paramount concern to every cost aware employer. Saving money by not fixing faulty electrical building systems or equipment can result in huge workers’ compensation and fire-related building costs when a preventable accident occurs.

 

Here are some easy tips to prevent electrical accidents:

 

• Always use caution when working near electricity.

• Never operate electrical equipment while standing in water.

 

 

ELECTRICAL CORDS AND OUTLETS

 

• Do not run extension cords across doorways or under carpets.

• Have additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician. Avoid using extension cords.

• Avoid overloading outlets. Plug only one high-wattage appliance into each receptacle outlet at a time.

• Replace or repair damaged or loose electrical cords.

• If outlets or switches feel warm, or there are frequent problems with blowing fuses, tripping circuits or flickering or dimming lights, call a qualified electrician.

• Have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry, basement and outdoor areas.

 

 

APPLIANCES AND EQUIPMENT

 

• Follow manufacturers’ instructions for appliances.

• Place lamps on level surfaces, away from things that can burn. Use bulbs that match the recommended wattage.

• Cover bare bulbs.

• Never operate electrical equipment while standing in water.

• Never repair electrical cords or equipment unless qualified and authorized.

• Have a qualified electrician inspect electrical equipment that has gotten wet before energizing it.

• Before working in damp locations, inspect electric cords and equipment to ensure that they are in good condition and free of defects. Use a GFCI.

 

 

OVERHEAD WIRES

 

• Never touch a fallen overhead power line. Call the electric utility company to report fallen electrical lines.

• Assume that all overhead wires are energized at lethal voltages. Never assume that a wire is safe to touch even if it appears to be insulated.

• Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead wires. If working at heights or handling long objects, inspect the area for the presence of overhead wires before starting work.

• If an overhead wire falls across your vehicle, stay inside the vehicle and drive away from the line. If the engine stalls, do not leave your vehicle. Warn people not to touch the vehicle or the wire. Call the local electric utility company and emergency services.

 

 

Where to get more information:

 

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is a 501(c)(3) organization that promotes electrical safety. They recommend the following steps to ensure that your safety program addresses electrical safety:

 

Step 1: Awareness

Make sure that safe electrical practices are known to and vital to everyone in your business.

 

Step 2: Assessment

Make sure that your company’s electrical safety program is up-to-date and comprehensive. They have an Electrical Safety Self Assessment tool that will help you review and analyze your company’s electrical safety practices related to facilities, personnel and procedures.

 

Step 3: Improvement

After you identify areas that need to be addressed, make sure to follow up on the improvements that need to be made. See more at: http://www.esfi.org/index.cfm/pid/12386#sthash.xxkspphT.dpuf

 

 

Also, OSHA has more information available at: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/electrical_safety.html

 

 

Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Workers Compensation Management Program: Reduce Costs 20% to 50%. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Principal, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: mstack@reduceyourworkerscomp.com.

©2014 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law.

 

WORK COMP CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/calculator.php

MODIFIED DUTY CALCULATOR:   http://www.LowerWC.com/transitional-duty-cost-calculator.php

WC GROUP:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?homeNewMember=&gid=1922050/

SUBSCRIBE: Workers Comp Resource Center Newsletter

 

Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker, attorney, or qualified professional.

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